Let me begin by saying: My position is George Zimmerman is innocent until charged, tried by a jury (or, if jury is waived, by a trial court), and found guilty.
Two lawyers in Florida announced last week they represented George Zimmerman in regard to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The press reported that the lawyers had not met face-to-face ( as opposed to some other manes by which one would "meet" another person) with Zimmerman. Not having yet met one’s client is not an unusual circumstance in legal representation. If the client is incarcerated, her or his family members sometimes hire a lawyer to ascertain grounds for appeal or post-conviction relief. Another circumstance is that of a client out of state who telephones and hires the lawyer. In each of these circumstances, the lawyer endeavors to have a face-to-face meeting with the client as soon as possible.
Obviously, the Trayvon Martin case is a high-profile case. I was surprised when I heard the lawyers in question postulating rather arcane defenses for the client they had yet to meet, e.g. "Shaken baby syndrome."
The worst twist in the story occurred yesterday. The two attorneys held a press conference in which they: 1) announced they no longer represented Zimmerman 2) had lost contact with Zimmerman 3) gave details about Zimmerman’s father (with their assistance) setting up a pen pal account for donations (implicitly for Zimmerman’s legal defense) 4) questioned Zimmerman’s soundness of mind and 5) stated he is no longer in Florida and, in fact, far away from the Sunshine State.
The press conference was beyond silly.
A lawyer’s first concern is supposed to be the best interest of her or his client. The most appropriate action the lawyers could have taken, if they no longer represent Zimmerman, was to issue a simple press release to that effect. "As of this date [names of the firms; there were at least two] no longer represent George Zimmerman.
Instead, the lawyers acted in a manner that could be construed as contrary to the interest of their (now-former) client:
1) They questioned his emotional stability. This might cause the prosecutor in the case to act more quickly, charge the man, and get him into custody. Many might say this is what should have been done a couple of weeks ago. My point is that his supposed legal counsel should not have made statements that speed up the process whereby he is taken into custody.
2) Having questioned his emotional stability was not enough. They also said he was outside the State of Florida. One of the lawyers said words to the effect that you would have to look a long way from Florida to find Zimmerman. This statement, coupled with the comment about emotional stability mean that, if Zimmerman is charged, in all likelihood bail will be set at a much higher amount or the State will ask Zimmerman be held without bail.
3) The lawyers may have leaked information that was confidential. Even if Zimmerman told them matters on the telephone, the attorney-client privilege attaches.